People who follow my website know that I post a lot of journal entries on the subject of music, which connects to my research and publications in different ways. I’ve also posted at least one article in the past on the profound influence that the Beatles had on me since early childhood. One of the albums that made an impact in my early years was Abbey Road. I recall playing that album frequently with other friends in my first grade classroom, and have a lot of memories and associations with this early experience with the album. So last night, as a way of celebrating the 50th anniversary of the album’s release on Sept 26, 1969, I made a video in which I perform the songs on piano and guitar. The idea behind this video was for me to play and sing the songs in part or whole, one by one, following the original sequence from the album, and intersperse the music with commentaries on each individual song. I make comments about the song lyrics and their possible meanings in light of this being the last album and therefore the “breakup” album of the band. I also talk about the music and the choices they made for chords and melodies, and how they come together into a composite whole somewhat like a sonata or symphony does—especially when it comes to the medley that completes the album. Finally, one cannot forget the contributions of the “fifth Beatle” producer George Martin to the album, without whom this would not have been the masterpiece that it is.
Much has been said and written about this landmark album and its special place in Beatledom. My own reflections are partly original and partly from reading various books and articles on the Beatles over the years. I’d like to give a shoutout in particular to a book I read recently called Help! Written by a colleague at Duke University, Thomas Brothers, this book focuses on both Duke Ellington and the Beatles and the magic of collaboration that made these artists among the greatest in the history of popular music.
Enough said. To find out more about what I think about the album and what their songs mean to me and to others around the world, watch this video!